Outlook for housing market remains positive

Affordability remains a factor in the relative success of the housing market in Northern Ireland
Affordability remains a factor in the relative success of the housing market in Northern Ireland

Confidence in the local housing market remains higher than elsewhere in the UK, according to the latest Residential Market Survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and Ulster Bank.

A net balance of +64% of polled for the July survey expected as an increase in the number of houses sold over the next three months, while a net balance of +58% expect a rise in activity over the year ahead – the highest rise in the UK.

The mood contrasts with other regions, particularly London, where sales expectations are in negative territory regarding the next 12 months.

House prices in the province have also continued to move upwards according to respondents, with a net balance of +60% of surveyors here saying that they had seen a rise in the past three months.

This was the highest price balance in the UK, and the highest recorded here in almost three years.

RICS members also remain positive about the outlook for prices in the coming months with a net balance of 36% saying they expect a rise in the next quarter and a net balance of 77% saying they expect house prices to be higher this time next year.

But despite the start of a number of housing developments in recent months, supply in the market remains an issue, with the survey reporting a marginal fall in new instructions to sell.

Meanwhile, the data for new buyer enquiries and newly agreed sales rose. A net balance of +25% of surveyors said that they had seen more newly agreed sales compared with last month.

“Unlike in other parts of the UK, surveyors in Northern Ireland are seeing prices rising and are remain confident about the outlook,” said residential property spokesman, Samuel Dickey.

“With houses in Northern Ireland more affordable than elsewhere, people continue to want to buy their own home. The main challenge, though, is that there are not enough properties to meet the demand.”

Terry Robb, head of personal banking at Ulster Bank, said: “We continue to see strong demand from first time buyers, those seeking to remortgage, and people moving home. It’s clear that Northern Ireland’s housing market continues to display more positive sentiment than the UK average.

“Despite the recent increase in interest rates by the Bank of England, mortgage rates remain at low levels historically and we anticipate good demand through the remainder of the year.”